Posted by HSMP Forum at 2/20/2013 7:42 PM |


In July 2012, the coalition government introduced a new set of rules that had a strong impact on family life. The rules required a British citizen or those settled in the UK to earn a specific income, if they wanted to invite their spouse and/or children, who were non-European nationals to join them in the UK.

The changes also introduced a new set of criteria which made it more difficult for those wanting to invite their non- EU parents as dependents. There is a new requirement that the parent should require care for their day to day needs. The threshold is particularly stringent because it does not just take into consideration financial dependency and age of the applicant (parent) but in addition requires them to have a minimum level of physical impairment or in need of care, and further that the required care is not available in their country of origin.

The changes are particularly unfair and irrational, because European nationals are subject to no such restrictions and would be able to bring in a non-European spouse without any income criteria but not a British citizen or permanent resident.

The irony of the changes is that it deprives citizens and permanent residents of the right to have a family life in the UK. This may just be because someone is earning couple of thousands lesser than the required earning of £ 18,600 and that person will never be able to invite his / her partner to the UK. Someone who has a widowed mother, who is old and fully dependant on her son / daughter in the UK and has no one to rely on in her country would still be unable to spend her time with her children during a crucial stage of her life.
Furthermore, the changes will definitely have a disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities. The Commission for Racial Equality earlier in 2007 pointed out when the previous government was enforcing earning thresholds that those who fall foul of high earning criteria are disproportionately from ethnic minorities. Apart from being victims of discrimination in the job market, they are likely to be victimised even further by these changes as they are deprived of a family life. This argument is further supported by the HSMP Forum’s judicial review judgments in 2008 and 2009. Therefore, the available evidence only confirms that the majority of those who are / will be affected by these draconian changes will be those who emigrated from Asian and African countries and are permanent residents or have become British citizens (or children of those emigrated years back). This also takes into consideration the fact that non visa nationals may be able to find temporary consolation, as the partner or parent would be able to visit on temporary basis, unlike the difficulties for visa nationals. The government may waste no time in refusing even visitor visas for the latter based on speculation that they may not return to their country.

The changes seem to have been calculated to cause maximum impact on ethnic minority families and meant to make it very difficult for British citizens and permanent residents who are of Asian or African origin to continue to live in the UK. Some have approached the forum due to the distress the changes have caused and some say they may consider moving back to their country of origin due to their inability to sponsor their partner or bring their parent to the UK even though they will be able to maintain them without recourse to public funds. The outcome of these cold blooded and savage changes may mean some may be forced to uproot themselves yet again.

Even if someone fulfils the criteria, one is still faced with the numerous applications and inflated application fees required to attain settlement for a spouse; making the whole process economically burdensome for the immigrant families. Overall, the changes have unfairness written all over them.

Author: Amit Kapadia

Amit is the Executive Director of the HSMP Forum. He campaigns against issues such as – unfairness, inequality and abuse of human rights.

Twitter @ amit_kapadia

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HSMP Forum

HSMP Forum is a not-for-profit campaigning organisation and bears its origins to the UK's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, which was introduced in 2002. It was formed after the 2006 decision by Government to apply new qualifying criteria for existing Highly Skilled Migrants. HSMP Forum has been lobbying the legislature, executive and the judiciary by challenging unfair policies to non-European union migrants. The aim of the organisation is to support and assist migrants under the world-renowned British principles of fair play, equality and justice and believes in challenging any unfair policies which undermine the migrants’ interests.

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